Smoke Signals

FSU starting quarterback <b>Chris Rix</b> enjoyed a productive spring. He earned the Hinesman Award as the Seminoles' top player and, by all accounts, was effective in a leadership role. In this engaging interview, Rix reflected on spring as well as talked about keys to the offseason. "I think the main focus for all of us – coaches and players – is just getting back in the national title picture. That's our goal. That's what we are working hard for...," Rix said. We also have recruiting news.

Florida State starting quarterback Chris Rix enjoyed a productive spring. He earned the Hinesman Award as the Seminoles' top player and, by all accounts, was effective in a leadership role as well. Rix reflected on spring as well as talked about the future in this recent interview:

On spring:

"I was pleased first of all with the way team progressed. With the line being young, that was my main concern and I think the coaches stepped up. We also have a ways to go but I was definitely encouraged by the way the line stepped up. With the receivers, losing Anquan and Talman, a lot of the receivers stepped up and showed they can be go-to guys. I was definitely surprised by the award (Hinesman Award) I got and I was happy and the guys see that I am working hard and I am there for them. Overall, I was very encouraged with the spring and if we can just carry that into the summer and into the fall ,we should be okay. I know we have a lot to work on and I just hope the guys will keep working hard throughout the off-season and knowing we had a fast spring and we still have a ways to go."

On earning respect:

"Well, I think coach Bowden was on the top of list of people to ask that question along with the other coaches and players. I just tried to show that I wasn't going anywhere and that I was going to be there for the guys and that I definitly had a lot of work to do after last season on and off the field. That's primarily what I just focused on. I don't think I am the best person to answer that question but I tried to have the most productive spring I could have possibly had in the three weeks and just showed the growing up I've done in all aspects and that I am a leader for this team and want to be a rock for this team going into this season. Hopefully, I showed signs of doing that."

On something to prove to your teammates:

"Yes. Being in this position, everybody is always looking at you to see how you are going to lead and what direction you are going. In the past two seasons I have had to learn a lot as well as the other guys have and I just feel a lot more comfortable in the role I am now. Being an upperclassman and being a third-year starter. I wasn't really trying to say a lot to the guys this spring, but just, ‘Hey, let's go out there and take care of business and follow my lead as far as producing out there moving the football down the field.' I am just glad the way the guys responded and it just showed the lack of experience most of them had, especially at the line position, knowing that someone has been there before. ... not talking a lot but getting out there and playing ball and putting points on the board. I think that's a good place to start as far as some of the relationships being young and not playing with the guys a lot going into the season. I think we had about as good a spring as we could have had."

What do you and your teammates have to accomplish in the off-season?

"I think the biggest thing is film study for a lot of the guys, especially myself. Watching our spring practices and our scrimmages and also our opponents we are going to play next season. The linemen and the receivers.... you look at all the linemen we had last year, they are gone. We missed Ray (Willis) and we missed Bobby (Meeks) this spring. But Eric Broe, (Matt) Heinz, Meinrod, David Castillo and Andrew Henry-Kennon all had decent springs and they know they have a ways to go but I was definitely encouraged by the way they stepped up and the protection they provided. I think the biggest thing going into the offseason is they stay strong, stay in the weight room and keep working on their footwork and fundamentals. That's what coach (Jimmy) Heggins wants them to stay sharp over the summer so when we come back in the summer we haven't missed a beat."

On not talking to media

"It really wasn't that big of a deal. I think it provided me a little extra (time) for Xs and Os part of it and not dealing with (media) and letting my coaches and teammates handle that. It was good to concentrate on the chemistry and how everyone was coming along in as far as losing a lot of guys and there was a lot of new faces out there. That was my main thing. That was coach Bowden's decision and I trust every decision he has made since I've been here. I went along with that. If he wants to continue that in the fall, I respect that. If not, if things are back to normal like I am assuming they will be, I will deal with that when the time comes. I think the main focus for all of us – coaches and players – is just getting back in the national title picture. That's our goal. That's what we are working hard for and we need to continue to do that in the offseason. "

Most quarterbacks at FSU have had to wait their turn. You are in a unique position as entering into the season as a third-year starter.

"It's funny, coming into my freshman year and then my sophomore year, you always heard that. I tried to think, ‘Oh, that's a number. That's just a frame of mind.' But it really is. ... that learning curve is important, playing college football, especially at the quarterback position. I feel totally different mentality coming into my third year compared to my first year. You need to learn the Xs and Os part, the decision making and catching up with everyone physically. I feel a lot different this spring than past springs and I feel more comfortable. That's probably how those other guys felt as far as Charlie Ward, Danny Kannel, Busby, all those guys coming in and starting at that stage. Even though Weinke was a sophomore when he started, he was older. I think as far as the mental part, I feel like I am where I should be now and I am just really excited about this season."

How is your family doing?

"The past couple of months were tough with the situation back home but a lot of prayers have been answered. My Dad is doing a lot better now. He's in a new house and in a new job and things are looking good right now. My relationship (with him) has gotten better and we will see what happens this fall. He's working on some things, possibly moving out here in the fall. If that's suppose to happen, it will. I am trying to support him in that. I am looking forward to spending some time with him when I go home, trying to figure out what's going to happen next fall – if he's going to stay in California or he's going to come here and be closer to me. I don't know yet but I trust whatever happens will be the right thing. As far as the offseason for me, it's important to keep up with coach Bowden and coach Dickey and my teammates. Even though I will be in California, I will be hanging out with Dominic and Lorenzo. I just think we need to stay in shape physically and sharp mentally. We've been away from Florida State standards for the past couple of years and we can't afford to waste any more time getting back to that level. I know we have the talent. I know we have the depth. I know we will be okay."

RECRUITING

According to a good source, FSU would like to take two quarterbacks in the 2004 class. Right now it looks like Xavier Lee of Daytona Beach Seabreeze and Cornelius Ingram has been offered and both are heavy leans to FSU.

Someone close to Lee's situation has told The Territory that he feels FSU would fit him best. If another quarterback commits to FSU it sounds like Lee would still come. However, he doesn't plan to commit early.

Ingram wants to play both football and basketball in college. The athletic 6-foot-4 and 195 pound quarterback grew up a FSU fan and he visited a Seminole practice this spring. He will attend FSU's summer football camp and don't be surprised if he doesn't pull the trigger and give the Noles an early commitment.

Drew Weatherford Daryl Dickey will get a closer look at him. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound quarterback will also attend FSU's summer camp. If he's offered, don't be surprised to see an early commitment from him also. Weatherford is on record that he will still strongly consider the ‘Noles even if Lee or Ingram makes a commitment early.

Another quarterback to keep your eye on is Deerfield Beach's Brent Schaeffer.

The 6-foot-2, 195- pounder with 4.47 40 speed has been quietly seen his stock on the rise. He has already been offered by Purdue and Kansas State. Last year as a junior, the second team all-state selection in Class 6A passed for more than 2,000 yards and 31 touchdowns with only seven interceptions as a junior.

In regular season play, his team handed the Class 5A state championship Pompano Beach Ely Tigers their only loss on the season. In that game the Deerfield Beach native tossed three touchdown passes while having a fourth called back. He is the first cousin of former Heisman contender Brad Banks.

According to a good source, expect redshirt freshman linebacker Buster Davis to move to either middle or strong-side linebacker in the fall. New linebacker coach Kevin Steele was very impressed with former Daytona Beach Mainland standout and labeled him his number one blitzing linebacker.

Dave Peters contributed to this report.


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